An Introduction to Virtual Personal Assistants

An Introduction to Virtual Personal Assistants

Virtual personal assistants (VPAs) are becoming more and more popular with people who need some extra help but don’t have the means to hire a personal assistant that is human. There are a few options out there right now, but they are not all created equal.

Take a look at the personal assistants offered by the main players in the industry for 2017:

Microsoft’s Cortana

Microsoft’s virtual assistant Cortana is now standard with Microsoft Windows 8.1 and 10. It can be used on desktop and Android mobile, as well as Xbox One.

What is it?

Cortana, first introduced in 2009, is a virtual assistant that is warm and welcoming to users. Its charming female voice greets you and helps with important tasks like setting up calendars, making phone calls, and telling you the weather. On your phone, it can help with directions, tell jokes, chat with you and has a built-in music service.

Advantages

One of the biggest advantages of Cortana is that its speech recognition and AI is quite advanced. It is also capable of answering multi-tier question quickly. In fact, it has one of the fastest report times out of all virtual personal assistants.

All of your information is available on the cloud. For sports fans, Cortana has some fun features, including guessing results of games, knowing stats, and providing up to date scores.

Recently Microsoft also announced its Skills SDK early dev partnership, with Knowmail also included as an email on-the-go skill.

Who Might Like It

Since Cortana easily goes from phone to computer, many people who need the virtual assistant for work use it.


Apple’s Siri

Apple’s Siri is probably the virtual personal assistant that most people are familiar with because it is built right into the iPhone. It is a great example of how efficient and advanced Apple can be.

What is it?

Apple’s Siri is a quick acting virtual personal assistant that you can adjust with your iPhone since the iPhone 4S. It works on all Apple products. Siri provides voice recognition services, notebooks, web services, searches, and weather features. Siri uses Google, Yahoo, and Bing for online searches.

Advantages

Siri is the fastest option, depending on your Wi-Fi connection it also offers a wide range of voice options make it attractive. The team at Apple has done a great job of including great features.

Who Might Like It

Siri has some of the best language support, so for people who don’t speak English as their first language or those with accents will enjoy its adaptive capabilities.


Samsung’s Bixby

The newest name on the list, Samsung’s Bixby has some strides to make before it can contend with the other names on the list.

What is it?

Slightly different from the rest of the options, Bixby is more like an app that has three functions: Voice, Home, and Vision. These allow you to control your settings on your phone with a wake word or through a button on the phone. It uses cards in the “Home” function that have all the things you are interested in and then Bixby will predict other things for you. Finally, it will read words, barcodes, and QR codes on products.

Advantages

The biggest advantage is that you will get to grow with this virtual personal assistant as they go through a beta period and change it up.

Who Might Like It

If you have (and like) Samsung phones and don’t have a need for a VPA all the time, this is a good option for you.


Google Assistant

An offshoot of Google Now, Google Assistant builds upon some of the problems that it had and makes a great virtual personal assistant.

What is it?

Google Assistant is an intelligent virtual personal assistant. It works with part of the Google Home system and Android systems and Android Wear. You can do much of what you can do with the other assistants, but the Google technology works fairly quickly.

Advantages

The biggest advantage is that unlike other assistants on this list, Google Assistant can participate in two-way conversations, making it more helpful in some situations. It is also quite fast and finally, the customer support is unparalleled.

Who Might Like It

People who already have Android gear and those who are familiar with Google Home. It is especially needed for those who use it as an actual assistant more than just a reminder service.


Amazon Alexa

Finally, Amazon Alexa has been making some great strides.

What is it?

Alexa is another intelligent VPA created by Amazon, mostly utilized by the Amazon Echo. It does many of the same things that the other assistants do, including making to-do lists, voice interaction, providing real time traffic and weather information and streaming music and podcasts.

Advantages

One of the biggest advantages about Alexa is that it is connected to Amazon so that you can connect your Prime account to make purchases, listen to music on Amazon Music, Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play Music. You also have access to Wikipedia, Google calendar, and over 5,000 other functions. As a bonus, certain restaurants offer automated ordering with Alexa.

Who Might Like It

For now, Amazon Alexa seems to be the most comprehensive virtual personal assistant. They are consistently updating and working to make it better, making this the perfect choice for people who need a VPA for their job.

 

Do you use or have tried any of the above VPAs? Which is your favorite and why? What are they missing to make them the ultimate virtual personal assistant?

Eran Abramson
Eran Abramson

Eran Abramson has a vast background in entrepreneurship, marketing and content and is in charge of marketing for Knowmail.

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